Research paper reveals better analysis methods for algal oil

By OpenAlgae LLC | April 03, 2012

A new paper from University of Texas algae-to-biofuel researchers provides insights into the complex composition of algal oil. In addition to disclosing a new analytical method of extracting oils from algal cells, the paper describes a liquid chromatography method that generates a simple and highly informative oil profile.

The research ("Extraction of Algal Lipids and Their Analysis by HPLC and Mass Spectrometry," by Jessica Jones, Schonna Manning, Morela Montoya, Karin Keller and Martin Poenie) will be published in the May 2012 issue of The Journal of the Oil Chemists' Society (online now at and was funded in part by OpenAlgae.

"Algal oils have a complex and variable composition, and the industry needs standardized methods to compare algal oils from different strains and geographies," said Peter Kipp, vice president of OpenAlgae. "The oil composition determines the value, and understanding the value is the key to building a multiproduct algae business."

Because of the many variables that affect the growth of algae, efforts to improve the predictability and scalability of algal production are receiving a great deal of attention.  The efficient and affordable separation of oil from highly productive algae is the next industry challenge.

OpenAlgae has developed concentration, electromechanical cell lysis and solventless oil recovery technologies for renewable oil platforms that are poised to replace conventional extraction and separation techniques. Importantly, OpenAlgae’s techniques separate oil and biomass without solvent, potentially opening new and broader markets for deoiled algal biomass.

“Predictable and scalable growth is happening,” said OpenAlgae CEO Hoyt Thomas. “If it’s too expensive to get the oil, algae can’t reach its full potential. Our work is focused on economic oil recovery to expand algae’s commercial opportunities.” 


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